The first rebrand state – shifting towards new opportunities - Charity Today

By Max du Bois

As featured in Charity Today by Max du Bois.

LAST month we talked about the 6 states of rebranding and the importance of identifying the state a charity is in prior to deciding how a rebrand should take shape. As we outlined, this is imperative to truly optimise a rebrand and help achieve buy-in from the Board.

To explain this further we will illustrate each rebrand state with two examples that should assist charities in better identifying which category they think they fall into.

The first rebrand state we touched on is where there is a vision to move into a different area or market. Realising a new opportunity is about using brand to step forward and truly make a difference when it’s fundamentally shifting its focus, to become more relevant, to deepen relationships with all stakeholders and build new ones. 

This is probably one of the most energising reasons for deciding to rebrand, and it is what spurred Arthritis Research UK to widen out from its historic focus on medical scientific research in a bid to do more to offer immediate and effective support for people with arthritis. 

Arthritis doesn’t kill, but for 10 million people in the UK it attacks what it means to live. The decision to turn a scientist ‘club’ into a champion for people suffering from arthritic conditions placed those with arthritis at the very front and centre of the corporate strategy and brand. The aim was to produce a profound shift that would have a transformational effect on people’s lives.

In this instance the rebrand used Arthritis Research UK’s ability to harness the power of exceptional science to springboard into service provision. Energised by their new brand the charity has now refocused their internal culture and is currently partnering with IBM’s Watson to pioneer new models of health information that aim to help arthritis sufferers break free from the limits these conditions cause.

Stepping forward and truly making a difference is also what motivated RoSPA to build a nationwide movement of inspired individuals committed to reducing life-changing accidents. 

In this instance the rebrand state focused on a need for their communications to go beyond the workplace and reach out to the public, to shift the mindset from ‘accidents do happen’ to ‘accidents can be prevented’, and in doing so avoid alienating their traditional B2B membership base. It was established from the outset that the first step to achieve this was to move away from RoSPA’s existing image of the ‘health and safety police’.

It is astounding how powerful a shift in mindset can be once it is set in motion. Establishing the core vision and defining how to reach it from the existing one was a journey that involved all stakeholders. More than 14,000 people die each year in the UK from accidents and countless more suffer needlessly from things that could have been prevented or avoided.

It took a total revolution of both the visual and verbal identity to give RoSPA the engaging brand it needed to resonate with public audiences and facilitate the sharing of knowledge that saves lives and prevents injury.

The new brand captures the complexity of the communication challenge and centres around the idea of sharing knowledge and the wisdom that accidents don’t have to happen.

Both Arthritis Research UK and RoSPA were very clear from the beginning that they wanted to take a step away and forward from where they were currently positioned. Once this was established it was a matter of agreeing exactly what their future vision was and how best to express this.

Communicating complexity and a shifting focus whilst still retaining the essence of what makes a charity what it was in the first instance, is a balancing act that requires fine-tuning, a keen eye and ear for detail and a strong vision. This kind of metamorphosis is without doubt one of the most exciting and rewarding rebrand states to go through!